In a last-ditch effort to turn the tide of the decade-spanning cola wars, Pepsi travels back in time 123 years to recover a pair of flavors fancy enough to secure a space in the premium section of the convenience store cooler.
Hitting store shelves across the nation this month, 1893 is a pair of Pepsi products meant to evoke a simpler time through use of simpler (and slightly more expensive) ingredients. The 1893 name is taken from the year Pepsi, initially called Brad’s Drink, was first introduced by Caleb Bradham in New Bern, North Carolina.
This is Pepsi returning to its roots for marketing purposes. The 1893 Original Cola hitting stores now in its fancy black can is likely a far cry from Bradham’s original formula, which called for (and was eventually named after) the digestive enzyme pepsin, sugar, kola nut and vanilla. Both new flavors feature kola nut extract and real sugar at least, along with sparkling water no doubt harvested fresh from artesian wells.
The pretension behind the marketing and presentation of these two new cola flavors rubs me in every wrong way possible. From the Fair Trade certified sugar logo proudly stamped on each can to the insufferable video ads,I feel like this is a product aimed at cartoon hipsters. I imagine a Pepsi marketing executive daydreaming about caramel-colored soda glistening in the bushiest muttonchops you’ve ever seen.
That said, I’m glad I managed to push past my revulsion long enough to grab a couple of cans. This stuff really is quite lovely.
The cola proper is light and slightly spicy in a way that modern mass-market sodas never are. It tastes like something made by putting existing edible things together, rather than a chemical compound.
The ginger cola does not shy away from the strong, pleasant burn of the ginger root. It takes me back to more innocent times, when I’d lie about being sick to stay home from school and my mother would buy me ginger ale. Innocence is a sliding scale sort of thing in my family.
“I don’t drink sugary sodas” is my version of “I don’t watch television” or “I never read Kotaku,” my little proud thing that’s only a lie every once in a while. Pepsi’s 1893 colas, specifically the ginger variety, threaten to significantly skew the lie-to-truth ratio.
Snacktaku is Kotaku’s take on the wild and wonderful world of eating and drinking things, but not eating meals. Eating meals is for those with too much time on their hands.